#13 USC Returns Home to Play Cal
No. 13 USC hosts California—the team it has played more than any opponent—in the 100th meeting between the schools. The game, which is approaching a sellout, is a battle between teams coming off tough 7-point road losses. Troy has won 8 in row over the Golden Bears (Cal has averaged just 10 points in each of those losses) and 9 of the last 10, plus the Trojans have won the past 5 Coliseum meetings over Cal.
USC is returning home after 2 weeks on the road (after a bye next week, 2 more road games will follow). It will be USC football’s first-ever appearance on the new Pac-12 Networks. Golden Bear head coach Jeff Tedford will be matched against his former pupil and assistant at Fresno State, USC head coach Lane Kiffin.
USC will look to re-group after being shut out in the game’s final 41 minutes at No. 21 Stanford in the Pac-12 opener last weekend. Heisman Trophy candidate QB Matt Barkley is nearing the Pac-12 all-time touchdown pass record, as well as USC’s passing and total offense career marks.
All-American WR Robert Woods continues to move up Troy’s pass catching ladder, but he is being chased by WR Marqise Lee, a fellow Biletnikoff Award contender who is in the national Top 25 in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards, scoring and kickoff returns. USC’s backfield features a pair of 1,000-yard runners from 2011 in TBs Curtis McNeal and Penn State transfer Silas Redd.
The Trojan defense, which has come up with 8 turnovers so far, features All-American S T.J. McDonald and CB Nickell Robey (both are Thorpe Award candidates), along with 2011 Freshman All-American LBs Dion Bailey (he has 3 picks this year) and Hayes Pullard.
California fell at No. 12 Ohio State after surrendering a game-winning TD bomb in the final minutes. QB Zach Maynard directs the Golden Bears’ offense, with TBs Isi Sofele and C.J. Anderson sharing carries. WR Keenan Allen, a 2011 All-Pac-12 first teamer who is ranked high nationally in punt returns and receptions, is sixth on Cal’s career receptions chart. True freshman WR Chris Harper is off to an impressive start to his career, with 15 catches in his first 3 games.
The Golden Bears’ defense, which makes a lot of tackles behind the line, is led by ILBs Robert Mullins and J.P. Hurrell (he is 18th nationally in sacks), S Josh Hill and CB Steve Williams.
Among those who will be honored during in-game salutes are Troy’s 4-time defending NCAA champ men’s tennis team and its men’s basketball team, along with student assistant football coach Frankie Telfort, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Hal Bedsole and Olympic gold medalist Kami Craig.
USC’s No. 1-ranked and 4-time defending NCAA champion men’s water polo team welcomes Cal for a game on Sunday (Sept. 23).